tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC November 24, 2009 9:00pm-10:00pm EST
singh and mrs. obama. have a happy thanksgiving and rush over and pick me up a doggy bag from this thing, i would appreciate it. >> they'll have plenty of leftovers, it looks like. >> that's "countdown." i'm keith olbermann, good night and good luck. to discuss the battle, ladies and gentlemen, sitting in for rachel maddow, governor dooen. good evening. >> thanks keith and thank you for staying with us. rachel is continuing her well-deserved vacation time. we are continuing with health care reform, now on life support. a small group of senators are killing the senate health care reform bill, if it includes a public option. the most vocal is senator joe lieberman, of connecticut. he's going to block a bill that
includes any version of a public option. with the senate less than a week away from debating health care reform, democratic majority leader, harry reid has a choice, stand firm on the public option or compromise it to get something passed. those on the compromise side argue that we should let the bill pass without a public option to get all the good insurance reform in the bill. but, there's a dirty little secret about it. the insurance reform is gone. in order to have insurance reform, you need two things. the first is making sure insurance companies can't turn you down for any medical reason. it's called guaranteed issue. that's in the bill. but, it's only effective, if you make sure the coverage is affordable. that's not in the bill. as the bill is written now, the insurance companies will be allowed to gouge their customers if they have illnesses to charge
you two or three times what your neighbor gets charged. a lot of the insurance reform in this bill is gone. the only real reform that's left is the public option. if that's compromised away, this bill is no longer health care reform. it's just a huge gift to the health insurance industry from the same people who bailed aig out, the american taxpayers. instead of ruining the bill, why not do the fair thing? if there are four senators who won't let us pass the bill with a public option, we have a mechanism to pass it, anyway, through the budget reconciliation process. if you do that, you only need 51 votes to pass it, which exist in the senate. instead of 60. just a simple majority, that's how most democracies work. it's what we should have done in the beginning. it's what democrats ought to do now. joining us now is bernie sanders
of vermont. he's a member of the senate health committee, senator sanders, thanks for joining us tonight. >> good to be with you, howard. >> it seems clear to me, if the four senators are to be believed, the senate can't pass the public option. i'm going to ask you, would you support the use of reconciliation to fix it? >> absolutely. it's one of the real options we have. look, the facts are clear. the overwhelming majority of the american people want a public option. they want a choice other than a private health insurance company whose function in life is to rip them off and make as much money as possible. p president wants it. the house of representatives want it. the majority of the senate wants it. it's wrong to take a handful of conservative democrats and all the republicans are stopping it. reconciliation is one opportu
opportunity and vehicle we have. >> you said this week, you would not vote for a bill that doesn't have a strong public option. are there other democratic senators who would join you in voting without a public option? >> i believe there are. if you do not provide competition to the private insurance companies, what's going to stop them from raising their rates outrageously and costing the government outrageously? i don't see it, frankly. we have to remain strong for a public option, go to a reconciliation or scale down what we are trying to do and try to get 60 votes. that would mean a significant expansion of medicaid, a focus on primary health care in the growth of community health centers and doctors. we could do prescription drug reform. stop where we are paying the highest prices for prescription
drugs, negotiating with the drug companies on medicare part d and insurance reform as well. maybe we can get a consensus at 60 votes for a scaled down approach. >> the current bill allows insurance companies to gouge their customers charge iing 30% more. it really works. is that going to be the kind of thing addressed? what do you know about it? >> it is one of the things that should be addressed. you are saying you could prohibit pre-existing conditions, but rates could be risen substantially and people would not be able to afford the insurance. it's an issue that should be dealt with. we're going to introduce amendments myself and other senators will have amendments.
there's two independent senators. you and joe lieberman. do you think you can convince your party? >> probably not. i think that responsibility will rest with senator reid and millions of americans who want real health care reform. >> they vowed to launch a holy war on health care reform. they promised to use every delaying tactic in the book, a very long book, of senate rules. how could we get a real bill out after we have come so far? >> i think it's really an outrage. after eight years of bush, where nothing was done while health care was deteriorating, sefl hundred people lost their health care. premiums almost doubled. they did virtually nothing. nothing. now that obama and some of us are trying to do something, the
best they can do is play the obstructionist role and try to kill the bill. it's wrong. it's a sad day for america. they should join us for cost effective, universal health care. it's a sad day when they are awol on this important issue. >> if i were you, i might not answer this, but i'm going to answer it anyway. how optimistic are you that we will get a bill with the public option through the house and signed by the president? >> i don't know if it will be scaled down or what. i think something will be passed. my view is it's better to have something strong and good and cost effective than a bailout to the tune of hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars to the private insurance companies who could raise their rates. at the end of the day, do i think we'll have something? hard to say.
>> thank you so much for your time. >> good to be with you. >> after all the talk of a public option, what happens if the senate comes up with a bill without a robust public option? one of the leading progressives in the house, that's next. i hired him to speak. a lot of fortune 500 companies use him. but-i'm your only employee. we're going to start using fedex to ship globally- that means billions of potential customers. we're gonna be huge. good morning! you know business is a lot like football. i just don't understand... i'm sorry dick butkus (announcer) we understand. your business could use a pep talk. visit fedex.com/peptalk minty. handsome! mmm, minty. mindy? wow. fresh.
sorry. beautiful, isn't it. breathtaking. fresh (announcer) for a fresh breath feeling that lasts up to 5 times longer there's new scope outlast. seacrest? yeah, i know. an update on a story followed closely on the "rachel maddow show." bill sparkman, a part time census worker was found dead september 12. he was hanging from a tree, naked, bound with duct tape with the word fed scribbled on his chest. they concluded his death was a suicide. he staged an elaborate crime scene to make it look like a homicide. authorities say, within the past
year, he took out two life insurance policies totally $600,000, both of which did not cover suicides. we'll be right back. (announcer) some people just know how to build things well. give you and your loved ones an expertly engineered mercedes-benz at the winter event going on now. but hurry - the offer ends soon. so, at national, i go right past the counter... and you get to choose any car in the aisle. choose any car? you cannot be serious!
insurance companies are out there in full force carpet bombing against a public option. when you ask people about a plan, they are uncertain about it until you tell them what's in it. top democrats hammered the insurance industry for the multimillion dollar to stop health care reform. now, as house democrats wait on
their senate colleagues to pass a health care reform, they are looking on as a centerpiece of reform. the public option hangs in the balance. thanks to the insurance industry. senate democrats are divided. those who threatened to kill the bill and refuse to bring it up if it has the public option in it. democrats will vote against a bill if it weakens the public option. will it survive the senate? if not, what does it mean for the prospects in the house? joining me now is anthony weiner from new york. thanks for joining us. >> thanks for having me. >> are liberals willing to kill the bill if it has a public option? a real, strong, public option. >> many of us compromised a long way. people like me wanted a single payer system for all americans. we compromised for a strong
public option for a small number of people. we are negotiating away too much for progressives in the house. the thing that's most complicated for us is we listen to our colleagues saying it doesn't save enough money. the one tool we have, they say we want that out of there, too. the problem with the negotiations is we have a small group of democrats arguing, essentially an inconsistent thing. they want a lower cost, but don't want the public option. >> how did we sink to this low point where there's not a mention of the single payer system, even though 50 million americans are already in a single pay system, it's called medicare for people over 65. another 25 million americans are in a socialized government run plan which happens to be the most highly rated of all the health care systems in the
country, private and public. how did we get to this point. >> not to mention the department of defense. >> not to mention the 535 congressenmen with a hybrid system. >> we have our own public option. we are on medicare. not myself. i did a survey. 150 members of the house and senate are on a public option medicare. let's not get carried away about how far we have sunk. it is a compromise for many of us. >> very solid. >> the senate bill, i think, still, we have a conference to get to. one of the things i argued all along, if we knew what people like senator lieberman an landrieu or lincoln said we want cost savings, we could give it to them. we can take something like to medicaid system with a 1.5% overhead and expand it.
we can do cost savings. we have to know what they want. between the public option getting watered down and the stupak amendment getting attacked, if those things stay intact, i don't think it has the votes to pass the house. it's regrettable. there are a lot of things to do that we all agree on. >> what about the idea bernie sanders was talking about. don't reform the system. expand medicaid and put in money for qualified health care centers and those kind of things. >> bernie is great. i don't buy the idea we are transforming it. we are going to add new standards and give tax credits to people to buy insurance. we should be thinking about taking something that works. by the way, a bedrock, democratic program. everyone understands medicare because their parent is on it
and they like it. we have made mistakes. if we democrats think we are going to stand for it, having the stupak language in there, we are going to find we might be doing more harm than good to our brand. >> that's the last question for me. more harm than good. at what point is it not worth passing. >> i have a website, countdowntohealth care.com. the american people want us to fight back and stand for principle and we are not doing it. i'm convinced senator reid and bernie sanders are going to bring around those senators. if we water it down much further, we are going to be to that pounlt. it's got to be the good at the end of the day. >> as ross perot said, if we're
not getting anything for it. >> we need to provide better care for those with insurance. the public option is how you do it. we are thinking by throwing it overboard, we are going to kill the bill. we need it. >> thanks for taking the time. appreciate it. >> my pleasure. >> if you want to know more about my view on health care reform, pick up my book. howard dean's prescription for real health carry form. big news out of washington. we are learning president obama made his decision to send more troops to afghanistan. retir retired cornel joins us to talk about the plan.
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after eight years, some of those years in which we did not have, i think, either the resources of strategy to get the job done, it is my intention to finish the job. >> the job, in this case, is the war in afghanistan. president obama has reportedly reached a decision in how he plans to finish it. he held a meeting with his security team in the situation room last week. now, nbc news is reporting on the details about the president's plan. it reportedly will call for an increase of 32,000 to 34,000
u.s. troops. it will include benchmarks and goals. no timetable for pulling out of the country. it appears to be close to the 40,000 requested by general stanley mcchrystal, the commander in afghanistan. president obama is expected to announce the new plan next week. >> and, i feel very confident when the american people hear a clear rational for what we are doing there and how we intend to achieve our goals, that they will be supportive. >> a decision comes after a lengthy an contentious deliberation. the u.s. ambassador to afghanistan used to be the top u.s. commander reportedly cautioning the president against sending more troops.
it appears that thousands more americans will be headed to afghanistan. joining us now is msnbc military analyst, cornel jack jack obs. he interviewed the chief of afghanistan for next week's magazine. thanks soft for being here. >> thanks for having me. >> the president's plan is generally seen as a middle ground decision. is that how you characterize it? >> i think so. if general mcchrystal had his way, i don't think he wants fewer troops. 34,000 looks like it's four combat brigades, all the support necessary to take care of it in the region. special forces and special operations forces. that ought to bring you up to the number we are talking about. it's a middle ground. it permits them to not overload
the zone and stretch forces. they are thinly stretched and focus on the areas that need attention in afghanistan. the strategy review isn't just about how many troops to send, but how long they should stay and how to get them out. do you think the debate overshadowed the strategy in afghanistan? >> i think so. everybody is talking numbers. the numbers are important depending on the type of troops and what they are doing. i recall back in the days when the surge, we had the surge in iraq. everybody was talking about the surge. we had between 100 and 200,000 troops there. a surge of 27, 000 troops was nothing. what made a difference is we sent them to areas and kept them there. here in afghanistan, it's what will make the difference, not the number of troops, but what we do with them.
>> how detailed do you think the president's speech is going to be about the strategy, which is what americans are going to focus on now that we are sending 34,000 more troops. the instructions inside the defense department and general petraeus gave, is going to be very, very detailed. the study that went into this, also very detailed. i think the president is going to try to be as general as possible. i think he's going to try to influence public opinion to the following extent. i have made a decision. i know the strategy i want to pursue. it's going to be this, to focus on areas. we are going to keep troops there to keep people successful. i don't think he's going to get more than that. >> as you are aware and most americans are aware, the polling that shows the support for the war in afghanistan is dropping below 50%.
mid-term elections are coming up. the president is going to have a hard time. will he have a hard time getting money for this? >> at the end of the day, most people don't read the constitution and understand it's not the president of the united states. it's about the congress. the president doesn't have many powers. congress has all the powers. in the end, it's up to the congress, whether or not instructions from the president actually get carried out. they are the guys who funded. remember guantanamo bay? the president said we are going to close it. congress said we're not going to appropriate the $80 million to do it. we're not doing it. congress is very, very reluctant to come down hard on any efforts that revolve around national security. we went through more than a decade in vietnam and one of the reasons we did is because congress abc lutdly refused to shut down the pipeline of money. i think this is the same case, the same situation.
congress is not happy about doing this. the public is not happy about going through it again. we have been there eight years. we may have to go through it another decade. in the end, congress does not want to be the body that says to the american public, we are not going to defend you, we are not allocating the money. congress is going to give the president some time and give him the money he needs, he's going to request to get it done. >> thanks for being with us. >> thanks for having me. >> thank you. >> good to see you. new questions tonight over wall street and big bonuses. a new report says the top executives at two of the firms helped lead to the banking crisis walked away with millions of dollars before the firms collapsed. eliot spitzer is going to be here to explain how it happened and how it can be stopped from happening again. well, with ups, you could eliminate warehouses. streamline your supply chain,
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financial meltdown walked away with huge pay offs before the collapse. lisa myers reports. >> reporter: it was the early phase of the financial meltdown last year. first bear stearns was sold to avoid a collapse. thousands of employees lost jobs. a new study by experts at harvard law school titled wages of failure found that since 2000, the top five executives received staggering amounts of cash bonuses and sold mountains of stock. bear stearns cashed out $1.4 billion and lehman brothers $1 billion. >> people who invested in these companies should feel betrayed. the idea of capitalism is people provide the capital and executives take care of it for
us. people provided capital and the executives took it. >> reporter: when the firms collapsed james and richard lost about $900 million of stock. but the studies said they came out well ahead overall. cane had $388 million and fold $541 million. >> they were rewarded hundreds of millions of dollars. they got that reward for making catastrophic decisions. >> last year, cane bought two condominiums here. at the iconic plaza hotel in new york city. price tag $28 million. fold remains a wealthy man. he has an $8 million estate in connecticut. sold his apartment in new york for $26 million this summer. has a $14 million ocean front
estate in florida. he told to his wife for $100 earlier this year. gerald silk represents lehman brothe brothers. >> they crashed and people lost billions of dollars when they walked away very, very wealthy. >> nbc lisa liers in washington. the studies conclusion pushes for tougher pay oversight. one of the reports authors is an advisor to president obama's pay czar. he reinstituted tough salary for the ceos whose company received bailout money. according to the wall street journal, he's facing pressure from officials to relax pay restrictions at american international group, another institution 80% owned by
american taxpayers. is this is case of more things -- the more things change the more they stay the same? joining us now, attorney general and governor of the state of new york, eliot spitzer who has an article on slate.com today. thank you for coming on the show today. >> good to see you. >> good to see you. the pay czar, is he going to back down on the pay cuts for aig? >> i hope not. the folks at aig are saying if you cut our pay, people will leave. on the other side, saying we don't want people to leave. there's an old saying the graveyards with filled. the aig folks saying we are indispensable. call their lovbluff. if you want to leave, go. it's out of control. they are few disharies, they are
working for shareholders. there's a confusion there. >> aig is slated to pay $200 million bonuses in march. what do you think is going to happen there. >> some of those are ob lay gaited because they were agreed to and signed off on. some made a fuss about it. what we need to do is go back, dig deeper and reconstruction the entire pay structure of wall street. salaries should be cut. bonuses should be cut. there should not be options where the shares weren't driven to zero. when the shares come back, there's value there. executives should be accountable. >> this is a question i wanted to ask an attorney. i don't know what the answer is. a lot of americans have been hurt by this. their pensions have been cut by
huge numbers. they are not going to come back. i think a lot of americans are wondering why they aren't in jail. why aren't they? >> some of them should be. >> explain what they did. people think they took money, but don't know why they aren't being prosecuted. >> this is not going to lead anybody into a jail cell. compensation committees got together and agreed they would pay themselves more and more and more over time. all of wall street started digging in deeper and deeper and deeper. it's our money. you, i, many others own mutual funds. we own these companies and we, as shareholders never pushed back when the executives took more and more. some are partnerships. they are taking shareholder money and the wages they are paying is extravagant. shareholders have to stand-up and say enough. criminal conduct, many were
misleading the public and shareholders and the risks and portfolios. those were instances. >> you made the cases, we need new regulations on wall street. the ones we have had have not within inforced. >> exactly. >> there's been a culture for years, the small shareholder myself. you see the approximaty statements. there's no culture in this country that shareholders have rights at all. don't we need to change it? >> absolutely. one way, i have been disappointed of states and cities across the nation. they are few douchearies. they could stand-up and say we have voting our shares to change the structure governing and pay scale. we could do it through the mutual funds.
there are many who should have stood up over time. forget looking backwards and forwards, they should do it now. they talked about how executives were taking too much. shareholders should make it. it should change the culture. do we need more government rules? some would help. tim geithner could have stopped all this and should have stopped this. he didn't. >> you wrote an article that's tough on geithner. called "geithner's disgrace." >> that was the headline. the argument is when aig was bailed out, tens of billions of dollars were given to the counter parties, the major banks, 100 cents on the dollar for the cds positions they had. not to get technical, they were given everything, tim geithner and the fed did not negotiate
with them. there's no justification. it was a give away of tens of millions of dollars to the bank that is got us in this pickle. the problem we have is we have a treasury department willing to negotiate with the taxpayer to demand the fundmental behavior we need. they are not lending to the mid-size companies that will create the jobs. what wall street is doing and given permission to do is use the money for trading, give it away in bonuses and invest it overseas. with tax dollars, it's not what we should be doing. there's no other side to the bargain. yes, we bailed them out. that needed to be done. the question is, do we insist upon giving back to them. the answer is no. >> eliot spitzer, thanks for coming. appreciate it. i have a lot of professional respect for the challenges
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i'm sorry dick butkus (announcer) we understand. your business could use a pep talk. visit fedex.com/peptalk republican national committee wapt as litmus test to make sure they are conservative enough. more on that coming up. (announcer) some people just know how to build things well. give you and your loved ones an expertly engineered mercedes-benz at the winter event going on now. but hurry - the offer ends soon.
eventually run itself into a minority status. >> that was republican dede scozzafava. a purge that is now reaching into the heart of the republican party. the ten members of the republican national committee have a proposal to be voted on early next year. among them are, quote, republican solidarity in opposition to obama's socialist agenda and president reagan's belief that someone who agreed with him eight out of ten times was his friend, not opponent. in order to qualify from the republican national committee, candidates must sign on to no fewer than eight of the ten principles, including things like imposing climate change, gun control, opposing
immigration control, opposing gay marriage and supporting lower taxes. a litmus test that keith pointed out on "countdown," not even ronald reagan himself would have passed. big tent meet pup tent. joining us now is chris. thank you for coming on. i'm so used to being the guest here. back in the spring, michael steele denied rush limbaugh was the de facto leader of the republican party. he apologized the next day. now, they are calling obama's agenda socialist. what changed between the michael steele then and the michael steele now? >> they are terrified of their grass roots. their misunderstanding is the grass roots leading them down a path that makes them more and
more unelectable. you cannot have a party with a litmus test that doesn't reflect the reality or policies the country cares about. when you go through the list of them, it reinforces the notion, this is a party of no. this is a bigger problem for steele and a bigger problem for the republican party as they try to figure out how they put themselves in the strongest position for 2010. if they go down this road, they are not going to lose candidates, but alienate voters. look at places like illinois and delaware where two of the republican candidates wouldn't meet the test. it's illogical, if not stupid, to be blunt about it. >> they do this all the time. they gif candidates questionnaires and rate them and endorse them. based on the answers, is that what the republican party is doing? >> well, they seem to be mirroring that. the problem with this, it's not interest groups, both sides of
the spectrum will do it. the difference is a party saying who can be part of the republican party. the logic part is, this is simple politics. you have to figure out a way to appeal to a wide range of voters. figure out how to appeal to independents and moderates who may not agree with the agenda. their problem is, they want people to subscribe to their agenda and they don't understand, they seem no not understand politics. you have to reflect what voters want and think. it shows how radical the republican grass roots have gotten. >> so, erase district 23, up state new york where doug hoffman was the candidate, dede scozzafava didn't make the test. most of the presidential
candidates talked about in 2012 came in and helped run the republican out of the race. the conservative conceded, unconceded, et cetera. do the republicans think it's a win for them? >> you would think they would realize what they did in the 23rd district wouldn't be a winning strategy, but in a strange, i think, twist of events, it's in them. they think what happened in new york 23 is a victory. what's happening in florida where they get behind is a victory. i think it shows how radicalized and how, you know, fear ent they are getting to take controls of the republican party. it's going to become a real problem for michael steele and the republicans. how do you appeal to moderates if you are unwilling to tell your base they don't reflect what most voters think.
it's not a recipe for success. it's where democrats have a real opening. we have tough issues, but we are addressing them. they, meaning the republicans have an ideological agenda that doesn't reflect your beliefs or your agenda. >> democratic strategist, thanks for your time. thanks very much. coming up on "countdown," keith comments on israel and asks if she is trying to bring about the rapture. and next on this show, state dinners and dinners. way, way out of state cocktail moment. is that what? i can't even read the teleprompter anymore. we're going to hear about the state dinner a minute. [ female announcer ] swiffer 360 dusters cleans deep...
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joining me now with tonight's "cocktail moment" the executive producer of the rachel maddow show, producer guy one to all you twitterers out there, bill wolf. >> thank you. for being here tonight. you're a former governor, former dnc chair. i have a twitter account. so we're even. we broke news that was already everywhere else, that's just good business. the white house we reported would host its first state dinner tonight to honor prime minister singh of our great ally india. tonight, we can report officially and exclusively that we got it right last night. they are having a state dinner right now with more than 300 very special guests. among those make the cut, secretary of state hillary clinton. that would be like having birthday dinner six months later without her.
michael bloomberg, faz he wasn't going to get invited. general colin powell, not representing the rachel maddow show, but he did once appear as a guest which is as close as we got. and vice president joe biden who is, of course, vice president. now, this state dinner like all state dinners is a great event. the president honoring a leader of world significance. and as such, there is one question men, women and children want to know as of tonight. what's for grub? minutes ago, i was on scene to try to find out. i turn now to me. >> hold it, hi, mr. holder, bill wolf from the rachel maddow show. i'm great. listen, you're not looking at me. look at me. sir. i have one simple question. what's on the dinner menu?
no, i recognize -- no, you didn't tell me what was on the menu. speaker pelosi, rachel maddow show, msnbc. what's on the menu tonight? can't tell me? secretary geithner? don't want to talk about the fed. oh, brian williams. i got this one. brian, it's me. it's bill wolf. you know, the other guy with the initials b.w. that you see in the hallway and occasionally recognize? help a friend out. teammates, nbc. help. don't walk away. >> little embarrassing about brian. he must not have seen me because we're dear, dear friends. anyway, my fact-finding mission was a bust. but our unit went to work, and
we got some answers. the menu tonight, green curry prawns and caramelized salsa with aged basmati. delicious and healthy sounding. red lentil soup with fresh cheese, governor dean, because soup is still good food. and potato salad. wait a second, did i read that correctly? arugula? white house arugula? they grew it themselves? did this administration learn nothing from the campaign? listen, a wedge of iceberg lettuce with a quarter ranch dressing is about as salad as you want to get. arugula? you want to take everybody bowling because it worked out so much the first time? i question the political savvy of this menu. have you ever been to one of these shin digs? >> i have. and the lady next to me pulled out her own dinner out of her
purse and ate it. >> was that carol channing? >> i'm not going to say because i still want to be on her christmas list. >> the administration was being unupped, 220 miles due north. no, not dog town pennsylvania. outer freaking space. yes, nasa will see your pre-trang stapreh pre-thanksgiving dinner and see you a shrink-wrapped dinner in a crumb-free environment. they're reviewing the culinary delights they'll enjoy with their thanksgiving day orange-flavored drink. >> we have cauliflower and cheese. we really like to point out that now it's very nice. we have european delicacies. one of my favorites, a pate,
cream spinach, all very good. >> so light it floats. >> fruit cocktail. colorful, too. and our standard is to use tortillas, which are also very dlirgs. and we have to show the spicy green beans. and the yummy spicy green beans. we don't get to make green bean casserole, but this is the next best thing. >> the space program, solving unsolvable programs. how do you eat thanksgiving dinner without putting on weight? zero g, duh. and how do you avoid family drama at the holidays? well, in space no one can hear your family screen. if only every tax dollar were that effective, governor dean, don't you think? i'm told we have just one more piece of late-breaking news tonight. just a second.